=

«

»

The Food Safety Modernization Act – it’s time to freshen up

Canyon Lake, CA, US: The introduction of The Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) in the USA has major implications for European food and beverage manufacturers, suppliers, distributors and agents, says Dr John Ryan, founder of Ryan Systems.

The FSMA has been specifically designed to protect public health by focusing on the prevention of food safety issues, improving traceability, and putting the spotlight on managerial and quality control processes of all supply chains going into America. This has caused disruption worldwide as for the first time in history; there is now a requirement for tracking solutions and visibility throughout every stage of the supply chain in order to avoid being sanctioned by the one rule for transgressors: if it doesn’t comply, it doesn’t come in.

Dr John Ryan, founder of Ryan Systems

John Ryan discusses, below, the solutions European suppliers are turning to in order to ensure compliance with the FSMA and why the legislation should not be viewed as “a stone in the shoe” but the perfect opportunity to streamline every stage of the supply chain and ensure higher quality.

“According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, around 50 million people have suffered from illness, 130,000 hospitalised and 3,000 die each year in the US due to food-borne diseases. To clamp down on these alarming statistics, in January 2011 President Barack Obama signed into law the Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) as proposed by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The passing of this act will not only affect the way the US supply chains operate, it will also have a fundamental impact on importers and exporters worldwide who do business with the US.

“The FSMA has been specifically designed to protect public health by focusing on the prevention of food safety issues, improving traceability, and putting the spotlight on managerial and quality control processes of all supply chains going into America. This has caused disruption worldwide as for the first time in history; there is now a requirement for tracking solutions and visibility throughout every stage of the supply chain in order to avoid being sanctioned by the one rule for transgressors: if it doesn’t comply, it doesn’t come in.

“Although the FSMA could quickly be viewed as the ‘stone in the shoe’ for an exporter, it could also be the perfect opportunity to revise and streamline every stage of the supply chain, reducing product wastage, pointing out the weakest links, increasing the quality of the food  and most importantly, making sure the produce is safe to eat.

“In order to ensure compliance with the FSMA, European exporters are quickly turning to RFID tags as a method of implementing a ubiquitous temperature monitoring and traceability solution from grower to retailer. Temperature management can play a key role in food safety as human pathogens are more likely to grow when produce temperature is not properly monitored, managed or controlled. Studies have found significant variation in temperatures at the pallet level – significant enough variation to indicate that monitoring only at transit- or container-level is inadequate. Understanding that, without pallet-level temperature monitoring, there’s no way for the retailer – or the consumer – to know the product abides by the new legislation.

“The latest innovative product for tracking and monitoring fresh produce is referred to as “XC3 Technology”, this technology incorporates two ISO and EPC global industry standards for battery assisted passive RFID.  XC3 Technology-based readers and tags provide superior range performance (100 meters or more), the ability to penetrate packaging to monitor and manage the actual condition of a product (as compared to the ambient temperature on the outside of a package which doesn’t accurately represent the products true condition), sensor support for temperature or other conditions, and track and trace capabilities directly on the tag and in the cloud as it travels with the product from manufacture or production through to the distributor or retailer. Never before have exporting companies been given such clear intelligence to their supply chain.

“In a recent research product, I used Intelleflex’s XC3 Technology solutions for produce tracking over three Hawaiian islands for one year, focusing on longer distance supply routes and international laws, such as the FSMA. I used the Intelleflex TMT-8500 temperature monitoring tags to continuously collect, read and analyse data at each way-point in the supply chain. Each pallet or separate shipment needed its own unique tag which recorded the temperature through handling. The tags were configured to communicate with a reader and data was transmitted through a wireless device that uses GPS tracking, thereby allowing data and location to be transmitted via satellite.

“During standard visual inspections of the produce, the shippers were under the assumption that the temperature of the produce remained at 45 degrees Fahrenheit throughout the shipment. However, the real data showed a fluctuation between the various pallets from a low of 43 to an extremely high 54 degrees Fahrenheit, identifying huge variations and major room for improvement.

“Although recent studies have shown that Europe is leading the way in reducing food waste, Asia and China have dived on the implementation of the FSMA as the perfect opportunity to use the latest technology and conduct internal audits on their supply chain, and are quickly becoming the two most dominant continents for fresh produce exportation worldwide.

“Europe’s attitude towards the FSMA needs to follow suit as, in the UK alone, over 80,000 people became ill due to food-borne diseases in 2008; laws like the FSMA can provide guidelines for the UK to help cut down the number of illnesses. Currently exporters seem to be left scrambling around with long faces rather than seeing this as a chance to use the latest tracking technologies to position themselves at the forefront of the global produce industry.

“There’s also another incentive: by pro-actively monitoring and managing the temperature of products in the cold chain, wastage can be reduced.  This means more products can be sold, generating more revenue for the growers.  In many cases, this additional revenue more than offsets the costs of the solution, generating a rapid positive ROI while effectively providing FSMA mandated traceability for free.

“The FSMA has been implemented with the objective of ensuring higher quality produce in America. And with Europe’s plans for 2012 to be ‘the year for reduced waste and freshness’ the FSMA should not be viewed as a threat but a golden opportunity to freshen up your supply chain from grower to retailer and clamp down on the number of illnesses worldwide.”